Your intestinal barrier protects you from toxins and bacteria in your gut while allowing nutrients to pass through unimpeded. In part one of this article we looked at vitamin A and D, and candida infection, and how these affect your intestinal barrier. But the elements that can affect the health of the barrier are not limited to these.
Additional Factors Affecting Your Intestinal Barrier’s Health
Your gut barrier is a complex system. Damage to it can be extremely damaging to your overall health. There are plenty of factors that can impact it, including food allergies and sensitivities. Delicate villi and microvilli lining your digestive system can be damaged, creating issues with getting nutrients from your food, or even leaky gut.
Consult your medical practitioner if you suspect you have a sensitivity. These can include:
- Wheat and gluten. Gluten sensitivity is hotly debated these days, with some researchers believing it may be more a matter of pesticides or other chemicals that are used in gluten production rather than gluten itself.
- Nuts and seeds. These are staples of vegetarian and vegan diets. Keep in mind, an allergy or sensitivity to, for example, peanuts doesn’t mean you are also allergic to a wide range of seeds and nuts. Consult your doctor to determine what other items you may be sensitive to.
- Corn. While sensitivity to corn is not widespread, it is not unheard of.
- Dairy. Dairy is one of the most common sensitivities.
- Soy. Note that soy products are often used as alternatives to dairy.
- Eggs. Eggs are a staple of some vegetarian diets as a source of protein.
Heavy metal toxicity, including mercury toxicity, also affects the barrier. Anything that passes through your gut comes into contact with it, for good or ill.
Determining If There Are Issues With Your Mucosal Barrier
Lab tests can determine whether your intestinal barrier is functioning properly. These tests typically look for the presence of immunoglobulins such as IgA, mentioned previously, and others such as IgG and IgM. These are all vital to the health of the barrier. We can perform these lab tests for you.
Testing for immunoglobulins such as IgA doesn’t involve invasive exploratory surgery; instead, a simple saliva test is sufficient. Your functional medicine practitioner can then determine a course of action to repair your mucosal barrier if that is needed.
There are additional tests which your functional medicine practitioner or medical doctor may recommend.
The Care And Feeding Of Your Intestinal Barrier
The health of your intestinal barrier has been linked to a variety of conditions. If your barrier is healthy, maintaining a proper diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can help keep it that way. Research shows that even the lowly broccoli can have an impact on gut health. Inflammation can dramatically affect the mucosal barrier, so it is wise to follow a diet that reduces inflammation.
The health of the flora in your gut directly affect the intestinal barrier’s health. Unhealthy flora may lead to irritable bowel syndrome and metabolic syndrome. So, ensuring it remains healthy can be vital. Managing a healthy diet, and ensuring your take probiotics or foods that encourage the correct kinds of flora in your digestive system, may be the most important things you can do for your intestinal barrier.
If your intestinal barrier has been damaged, consult with your doctor for a regimen to repair it and get it back into shape. This may involve a strict diet and vitamin supplements including large doses of vitamin D and A – but do work with your doctor, as too much of these vitamins can be counter-productive.